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FAA: Space tourists must be told of risks

One way trip, no refunds

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Caution: this could be a one way trip. This is what would-be space tourists will have to be warned before they set off on sub-orbital jaunts, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has said.

Following the successful launch of SpaceShipOne, the X-Prize winning craft designed by Burt Rutan, the organisation has now finalised the US regulations for passengers and crew on commercial space-planes, Reuters reports.

The rules state that passengers, who may not be younger than 18, must be informed that their journey is potentially a fatal one. It occurs to us that every bus journey is also potentially fatal, but the average double decker is not usually rocket propelled, which we suspect does make a difference.

Both passengers and the crew must be prepared for dealing with emergency situations such as fire or a loss of cabin pressure. We hope this preparation extends beyond being informed by a bored sounding cabin attendant of the risks of pulling your rip cord before exiting the plummeting space craft.

Tourists will also only be allowed to fly as far as the edge of space, leaving the Russians with a nice monopoly on trips to the International Space Station.

The FAA has also set out guidelines for minimum standards of health and fitness, but says it will be up to space operators to decide whether or not a particular passenger is suitable for the trip.

The rules only apply to flights departing for the edge of space from the US. ®

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